Station adopters of Blaydon Station have taken the first steps in a new initiative to twin with another station friends' group in the North of England, an idea they have been keen for develop for some time. Twinning with another group on a different route will lead to exchange of ideas, best practice and experiences of station adoption in a different area.
On Monday, 5 July 2021, the initial steps were taken as Community Rail Cumbria officer, Warren Birch met with the Blaydon Station Adopters and Tyne Valley CRP officer, Fiona Forsythe. Fortunately the weather was good and Warren was shown the new mural at Blaydon and the work that had been undertaken with the planters. The station entrance was decorated especially for Warren’s visit, so the flags were really out.
“Twinning is like having a blank canvas to work on”, said Joseph Codling, Blaydon Station Adopter.
Having adjourned for a coffee, plans were drawn up to develop the project and we look forward to progressing twinning and establishing further links between the Tyne Valley and the Cumbrian Coast.
Warren Birch said: “I love the idea of a group sharing their skills, knowledge and expertise with another county, helping inspire others and creating new friends”
The impact of trespass on the railway is wide ranging – there is the risk of being seriously or fatally injured, trains delayed or cancelled, the long-term effect on train crew, passengers and other rail staff who have witnessed or had to deal with the results of a trespass incident.
Originally launched during lockdown in 2020, the Backtrack competition was designed by members of Community Rail’s Education Network to tackle the very worrying number of trespass reports on our railways despite lockdown restrictions. Children as young as 6 years old had been involved. It is not just childrrn who trespass on the railway. Many of you will have seen images of adults walking across the tracks or jumping down off the platform at a station. Instances in the North East have been recorded on the Tyne Valley at Blaydon and Wylam. The Durham Coast has experience similar issues, particularly near Hartlepool, Redcar Central and between Seaham and Hartlepool.
The 2020 anti-trespass competition was open to young people aged 7 to 18 and it produced some excellent entries. Tyne Valley CRP and others in the Education Network have been able to share some of these on social media and when working with children and youth groups in the limited ways possible within the restrictions in place. You can see one of last year’s winning entries on YouTube.
The Education Network, who were recognised with the 2020 Community Rail Award for the Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail, are repeating the competition in 2021 but this year everyone aged 7 year and above can get involved. This is a national competition, which is being supported by many train companies, Network Rail and British Transport Police.
The 2021 competition has closed and we await the results. Find out more at the Backtrack website.
Fiona Forsythe, Officer at Tyne Valley CRP, is a member of the Education Network team who have developed and promoting the competition and she said, “This competition is not just about prizes, anyone taking part will be thinking about the dangers of trespassing on the railway and will be helping to spread the anti-trespass message in a way that the usual publicity does not”.
Our crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to support this project has hit its target and we are grateful to everyone who supported us.
We are working with Wallsend Local History Society and Haltwhistle Film Project to develop palns to create the documentary bearing in mind the recent government announcement of the easing of Covid restrictions in the months ahead. As part of this project we have also secured funding from Community Rail Network and CrossCountry Trains and this will be used to provide a storyboard at Newcastle Station, some signage at Haltwhistle and a specially written song to feature in the film.